February 27, 2024

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Audrey Azoulay appoints Lidia Brito and Vidar Helgesen as UNESCO Assistant Directors-General for Science

Paris, 2 November 2023 – The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has appointed Lidia Brito from Mozambique as Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, and Vidar Helgesen from Norway as Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, with the rank of Assistant Director-General.

Lidia Brito was Mozambique’s first Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique, from 2000-2005. She began her career at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, where she was Deputy Vice-President from 1998-1999. A specialist in forestry studies, Lidia Brito is internationally recognized for her expertise in the development of science, technology and innovation policy, particularly in Africa. She has also held roles as a Director of UNESCO Regional Offices in Harare, Zimbabwe and Montevideo, Uruguay.

A former Norwegian Minister for Climate and the Environment, Vidar Helgesen led international climate negotiations on behalf of Norway, before being appointed Special Representative for the Ocean to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this capacity, he steered Norway’s integration into European climate policies and legislation, and launched the world’s first national commission on the risks related to climate change. Before joining UNESCO, he held the positions of Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-chairman of the advisory board of the Decade of Ocean Sciences.

The renewal of UNESCO’s scientific management team comes at a crucial time as international deadlines approach on biodiversity, water and ocean sciences. Particularly important objectives are those of the Kunming-Montreal post-2020 Global Framework for Biodiversity, the new International Decade of Science for Sustainable Development (2024-2033) and the challenges of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), for which UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is the lead agency.

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